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9 Jul

Ep. 111 – Nicolas Cole – Founder of Digital Press

“Because when your focus is internal and you care more about your talent and your skill, that’s where things come in front of you, you don’t get distracted, you don’t get led by someone chasing the fancier car or more money.”

Nicolas Cole – Founder of Digital Press; How to make a name for yourself online; Being all in on your content; Ghostwriting; Self-publishing.


Segment 1: (Length :04:00) – General Updates; Introduction to Nicolas Cole and his journey as an entrepreneur; Discovering yourself through doing and creating; Mastering your craft.

Cole’s finer points:

“Well, I think even with side hustles, people sit down and think to themselves, ‘I might be doing whatever I’m doing, I’m going to school or I’m working a full-time job,’ but then, they ask themselves, ‘Well, what do I love? What do I really want to be doing in my life?’ That’s how side hustle starts.”

It's a phrase that a mentor told me is, you can't steer a stationary ship. It's not about just sitting down at your desk and going, 'I've decided the one thing that I love, that I'm going to commit to for the rest of my life and it's never going to change, and that's going to be my side hustle forever,' because it's not true

“When I was at school, I was gaming at night, and when I was in college, I was bodybuilding at night, and when I was working a full-time job at the agency, I was writing at night, and I think eventually you have enough of those experiences and you start to pull together the different lessons.”

“There are lessons that I look back from my gaming years that I pull into today and different work ethic and habits that I learned from bodybuilding that I pull in too today, and I think each one of those experiences is going to end up teaching you something where eventually you’re going to hit a tipping point and you understand, ‘Okay, maybe I have found something 5, 10, 15 years later that I really do want to commit to for a long period of time,’ but you can steer a stationary ship, right? Be open to it changing.”

I tend to make decisions more on what is it that I want to learn even more so than what is it that I want to achieve, because even every goal at some carrot or at some finish line that you're working towards, but if you're driven solely by the goal or the achievement, it's very easy to be led astray and focusing on the wrong things. It's also very easy to let your ego get involved.

“Whereas I think it’s still okay to be aware of the things that you’re driving towards, but always having your purpose or your intention behind it, be more rooted in what is it that you want to learn, what is the skill that you want to improve or what is the thing that you want to master?”

“Because when your focus is internal and you care more about your talent and your skill, that’s where things come in front of you, you don’t get distracted, you don’t get led by someone chasing the fancier car or more money.”

“Those things … Whatever, if you’re good at what you do, they’ll all come, but if you stay focused on what is it that I want to learn and master, you’re always going to be improving and you’re never going to be stagnant. That’s how you pass people.”

I'm a columnist for Inc., so I wake up to not only handfuls of PR pitches or people want me to write about their company, but also aspiring writers, or maybe not even writers but just marketers that go, 'Well, I want a column,' and they'll send me something that they've written, and I'm like, 'That's not even high school quality. You're looking at it through a lens of a marketer, you want just the exposure of something like that, but I'm over here and I put in 10 years of my craft.

“I think when it comes to patience, especially in high school when teachers were like, ‘You don’t write the way that’s correct,’ I didn’t say, ‘Okay, well, I’m going to try and write the way that’s correct.’ I was like, ‘No, this is my craft, this is my style, this is my voice. I’m going to figure me out.'”

“I did it because I loved it. Even just rejection letters or writing after college and submitting short stories or pieces that I had written and people saying no, when you’re doing it for the reward or the validation, those “no’s” feel a lot different because you’re like, ‘Wait, I’m not achieving something.'”

“Versus, when you do it out of love … I write because I love, and then all of the other things that come along with it were the result of that love.””When someone told me, no, I just said, “okay,” and I went back to my desk and turned on some music and went back to writing. I just did it because I loved it.”

“That’s the thing about patience, it’s like everybody is so worried about, ‘When am I going to be seen as that person who killed it?’ When really all the time that you’re wasting, worrying about whether or not you’ve killed it yet, you could’ve just invested those hours into mastering your craft.”

Segment 2: (Length :08:00) – Talking with Nicolas Cole; Having credibility; Being all in on your content; Ghostwriting; Creating Digital Press.

Cole’s finer points:

“Yeah. I’m going to draw a parallel here, so I’m in the personal branding space, so now, my ideal client is a … It’s a CEO, it’s an entrepreneur, it’s a founder, someone who basically has a lot of insight, wants to share what they know and build an audience around it.”

I understand the value of credibility, I get how the game works, and to be honest, the gamer in me sees the parallel as being when I was playing World of Warcraft, if you wanted to compete against the best players, you needed really good gear. Otherwise, you were going to get stomped. But here's the thing, is you could have the best gear in the game, but even if I just have moderate stats and we go toe-to-toe and we go one-on-one, you can have the best gear in the game and I'd still outplay you.

“That’s the thing, it works the same way in pretty much every industry, is you could go out and get all the logos, you could go out and say, ‘Yeah, I was named this and I was featured this.’ Okay, great, maybe you get people to take a first look at you, but then what happens when they actually dive into your content? What happens when they actually go to listen to what you have to say and they realize that it doesn’t actually hold any water? Okay? Now you’re going to get outplayed.”

“That’s the thing that I constantly reinforce to people is, yeah, be aware of the game, know how to play the game, sure, get credibility, create your personal brand to make you look professional and all those things that should be standard, but at the end of the day, when someone dives into who you are and what it is that you share, if it’s not up to par, they’re not going to stick around.”

“Yeah, 100%. That’s the power of a personal brand is the fact that I haven’t had to sell my services, or my craft, or me, in the past year. I have so much coming inbound that I don’t even have the time to do it. That’s what people need to really realize, if you invest in your craft, your value and what you’re really good at … For me that was writing. I knew that the business would come.”

Everything that people want and chase, it all comes when you're really good at something. So focus on getting good at it and then let all the other stuff follow.

“So, I studied creative writing in college, and it was amazing how every class pretty much was a lesson in accepting that you’re going to be poor because everyone is like, ‘Writing is dying. If you want to be a writer, you’re never going to make money.'”

“I’m sitting there like, ‘I’m a driven person. I’m a competitive gamer. I was a hockey player growing up. If you tell me I can’t do something that is a golden challenge to me to go figure it out.’ That’s what I set out to do. I graduated school and I was like, ‘I’m going to figure out how to make money as a writer.'”

“There’s a lot of different ways, one, is you write your own books or you manage your own blog. Any of the ways that a blogger or conventional author makes money, those are income streams selling books. I’m not a big fan of running ads in my blog or anything, but products, anything …”

Like when you have a personal brand that you can put your name on and is actually valuable or worthwhile to someone, you can charge for. That's one thing.

“Then, the other side, which is something that no one ever really told me about in school and an entire industry that I stumbled into, was ghostwriting.”

“So because I’ve been a top writer on Quora or I have a column for Ink and I write in all these places and a lot of people read my work.”

“About a year ago, I started having people reach out saying, ‘I love your writing. I love your voice.’ That’s really what they’re interested in. ‘I love your voice, and I’m willing to pay you. I’m willing to pay you to write me something that I can put my name on.'”

“My response to that is if I had written a book from my heart and had someone else put their name on it, that I wouldn’t be okay with, but when someone’s hiring me just like … Think of a Renaissance painter where someone’s like, “I’m going to hire you to go paint this in the chapel.” You’re hiring someone for their skill set. So when I do that for people, I’m a lot more … I’m invested in it, but I’m not as emotionally attached to the end result.”

“I realized that there was such a huge demand for it because all of these founders and, even people that have been building companies for 5, 10, 20 years … These are really, really smart people with a lot of insight to share, they just don’t have the time and they don’t have the writing skills, and they might even like writing but they are just like, ‘Look, I don’t have the bandwidth to do it.'”

So I created this company called Digital Press, basically it's a blend between ghostwriting and personal branding where 30 minutes a week we get on a call with the founder, or whoever the client is, we extract their insight, we bring questions to the table that we think they would be able to speak really well on, we take those calls, we transcribe them and then we end up turning those into long-form pieces of content for them.

“When people are like, “Oh, you’re ghostwriting, you’re putting words in my mouth.” No, that’s not it at all. We’re actually interviewing you, we’re learning from you, and all we’re doing is making the process easier by cleaning up what it is that you’re sharing and then structuring it in a way that I know people will want to read and share online because I walk that walk.”

Segment 3: (Length :10:00) – Self-publishing versus formal publishing; Creating great content; Creativity is key.

Cole’s finer points:

“It’s everything from when you’re working with that level of a person, it’s networking, it’s invitations to speak, it’s podcasts thing, it’s collaborations on content, it leads to books. Even with some of our clients already, we say by the six month mark … With how much content that we’re able to put out with our process, by the six month mark, you have enough content for a book.”

“Now imagine you’re not just putting out long-form pieces that are sharing what you know and building an audience, and even promoting your company or companies in the process, but then every six months you can also turn out a book, and we can help you by self-publishing it.”

And by the way, when I published my first book, I did a lot of research. I looked into the formal publishing world and self-publishing, and as I ... I grew up on the internet, I'm a digital marketer, I'm a gamer, I get how the whole landscape works, so why would I go give 70% of my art to a massive publisher when we have all the tools that we have at our disposal?

“So a really interesting study was done in 2010, it was IBM, they went and interviewed a bunch of CEOs and they asked … I think it was like 600 CEOs or something like that, and they asked them all what is the most important pillar of your business? What do you value the most?”

“An overwhelming amount of them said creativity. Okay? Clearly, people value it.”

“Now, explain to me what creativity actually means? Every single person gave a different answer. So I think, A, it comes down to how do you define that word, but, B, is this idea of stop trying to be creative is if you focus on the value and you focus on what someone needs, the creativity is inherent in that.”

Even when it comes to art and expression, understanding who that art might be for or who would look at that and have their life changed or be posed with an interesting thought? When you focus on the value, it's a lot easier to see the trajectory.

“Segment 4: (Length :03:00) – Hustler Thought of the Day:

Stop trying to be creative. The word is overrun and undervalued at this point. Be innovative. Think simple. Think value--what value can you provide to your customers, and then how can you provide some more?” - Cole Mather.



Nicolas Cole – Founder of Digital Press

  • Writer, Founder of Digital Press, Inc Columnist, Top 25 Forbes Marketing Influencer 2017. Cole has been writing online since I was 17 years old.
  • 2007 – Cole was one of the highest ranked World of Warcraft players in North America with one of the first e-famous gaming blogs on the Internet. By the time he graduated high school, he had over 10,000 daily readers and had positioned himself as a powerful voice in the world of competitive gaming.
  • 2008 – He attended arguably one of the top journalism schools in the country, the University of Missouri. My professor addressed our lecture hall of 500 students with a powerful statement: “The world of blogging is a trend and will never be a credible source of writing.” As an already established blogger, he disagreed, and transferred schools the next year.
  • 2012 – He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in creative writing. Cole’s first internship was at a digital marketing agency downtown Chicago, and he was introduced to the idea of writing and building an audience on social media.
  • 2013 – He was knee-deep in the world of bodybuilding. I had been lifting for years, and decided to start micro-blogging on Instagram, sharing daily workouts and nutritional advice. In less than a year, he built an audience of 15,000 followers, and became a blogger and influencer for a variety of publications and fitness brands.
  • 2014 – He began writing on a platform called Quora. He answered questions relating to all of his interests: gaming, fitness, music, digital marketing, and writing. In less than 3 months, he had his first answer go viral, landing on the front page of Reddit. That answer has since accumulated over 1.1M views. A month later, he had my first Quora answer republished by a major publication, Inc Magazine.
  • 2015 – He became a Top Writer on Quora and was having a different Quora answer republished by a major publication every single week for almost 6 months straight. Publications include: TIME, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Observer, Slate, Apple News, and more. He began to establish myself as a thought leader in the world of content writing and personal branding, explaining to people the ins and outs of expressing their unique voice and building an audience online—something he had already done for myself in both the gaming and the fitness industries.
  • 2016 – Cole had already had so much of his content republished by Inc Magazine that he was given a daily column. Since then, he has written over 200 columns for the publication, accumulating a handful of viral hits, each accumulating anywhere from 100,000 to 1M+ views.
  • 2017 – He decided to take everything he has learned about writing online, and this idea of building a personal brand on the Internet, and offer it as a service to serial entrepreneurs, CEOs, and successful business owners. I launched Digital Press, a ghostwriting + influence agency, specializing in writing high-performing content.


Matt Gottesman

Matt Gottesman is a global digital strategist and technology advisor, creator and editor-in-chief of Hustle & Deal Flow™ - an online magazine dedicated to the world's entrepreneurs, creators and makers, a Social Media Influencer and a consultant on New Media and go-to-market strategies for investments in digital marketing, technology, websites, mobile applications, eCommerce, social media and content.

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